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Assessing KS3 Computational Thinking - rubric

Assessing KS3 Computational Thinking - rubric

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Key Stage 3 rubric

Over the past five years, researchers at Harvard have developed a computational thinking framework based upon their studies of interactive media designers (school aged children). The context of their research is Scratch. By studying activity in the Scratch online community and in Scratch workshops, they have developed a definition of computational thinking that involves three key dimensions:

  1. computational concepts,
  2. computational practices, and
  3. computational perspectives.

Observation and interviews have been instrumental in helping them understand the longitudinal development of creators, with participation and project portfolios spanning weeks to several years. Workshops have been an important context for understanding the practices of the creator-in-action.


As young people design interactive media with Scratch, they engage with a set of computational concepts that are common in many programming languages. Harvard have identified seven concepts, which are highly useful in a wide range of Scratch projects, and which transfer to other programming (and non-programming) contexts:

  • sequence: identifying a series of steps for a task
  • loops: running the same sequence multiple times
  • parallelism: making things happen at the same time
  • events: one thing causing another thing to happen
  • conditionals: making decisions based on conditions
  • operators: support for mathematical and logical expressions
  • data: storing, retrieving, and updating values


From their interviews with and observations of young designers, it was evident that framing computational thinking solely around concepts insufficiently represented other elements of designers’ learning and participation. The next step in articulating their computational thinking framework was to describe the processes of construction, the design practices they saw kids engaging in while creating their projects. Although the young people they interviewed had adopted a variety of strategies and practices for developing interactive media, Harvard observed four main sets of practices:

  • experimenting and iterating: developing a little bit, then trying it out, then developing more
  • testing and debugging: making sure things work — and finding and solving problems when they arise
  • reusing and remixing: making something by building on existing projects or ideas
  • abstracting and modularizing: exploring connections between the whole and the parts


In their conversations with Scratchers, we heard young designers describe evolving understandings of themselves, their relationships to others, and the technological world around them. This was a surprising and fascinating dimension of participation with Scratch — a dimension not captured by our framing of concepts and practices. As the final step in articulating our computational thinking framework, we added the dimension of perspectives to describe the shifts in perspective that we observed in young people working with Scratch, which included three elements:

  • expressing: realizing that computation is a medium of creation, “I can create.”
  • connecting: recognizing the power of creating with and for others, “I can do different things when I have access to others.”
  • questioning: feeling empowered to ask questions about the world, “I can (use computation to) ask questions to make sense of (computational things in) the world.”

You MUST read the information on the website and then use the rubrics to explore the example projects that the site links to. I then recommend you check out Rosemary Slattery’s work -

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